Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Nazi concentration camps
- See also the related List of German concentration camps
Concentration camps (Konzentrationslager or KZ) rose to notoriety during their use by Nazi Germany in World War II. The Nazi regime nominally maintained both kinds of concentration camps: labor camps - since the beginning of their regime in 1933 - and extermination camps. In fact, it is difficult to draw a distinction between the two categories. Prisoners in many Nazi labor camps could expect to be worked to death in short order, while prisoners in extermination camps usually died sooner in gas chambers or in other ways. Guards were known to use prisoners as targets in target practice.
The first Nazi camps were within Germany, and were primarily work camps. The worst excesses, including the murder of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Polish intellectuals, Soviet Prisoners of War and others, were to come later in the war at the area of General Government. (See Holocaust, genocide.) It is estimated that up to ten million people died in Nazi concentration camps, of them six million were killed in the 15 larger ones.
Controversy: Holocaust denial
As part of an ongoing phenomenon of Holocaust denial, Robert Faurisson claimed in 1979 that "the Nazis did not have gas chambers and did not attempt a genocide of Jews. He contended that the 'myth' of the gas chambers had been promoted by Zionists...for the benefit of the state of Israel and to the detriment of Germans and Palestinians."
These contentions have led some to conclude that the Holocaust was fabricated. For instance, revisionist Ernst Zündel issued pamphlets such as Did Six Million Really Die?.
However this is generally considered to be an example of revisionist history that is contradicted by the ongoing research of those, such as the Nizkor Project, Deborah Lipstadt, John Keegan, Raul Hilberg, who published The Destruction of the European Jews, Lucy Davidowicz, who published The War Against the Jews, Norman Davies, Primo Levi, Simon Wiesenthal, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and more at Holocaust resources, all of which track and explain Holocaust denial.
- Concentration camp
- List of German concentration camps
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